La Commare Secca (Bernardo Bertolucci / Italy, 1962):

Bernardo Bertolucci the poet, announcing a change of medium: Pages are thrown off a bridge, the camera follows them fluttering on the edge of the Tiber until it finds the corpse of a woman. "A nice, long walk" through Parco Paolino, fractured via interrogations with suspects and linked by bits of abstruse poesy (an abrupt downpour, morning routines at the victim's apartment, the snatched purse that produces two pears.). One youngster (Francesco Ruiu) filches from necking lovers, two others (Alvaro D'Ercole, Romano Labate) moon over girls, records, gnocchi. The bleached thief (Alfredo Leggi) has eased into middle-class gigolohood with a noisy slum madam—he enjoys the spectacle as carving knife and clothes iron are wielded in a kitchen face-off, then accompanies the missus as she collects money from working girls, "from the factory to the consumer." The soldier on leave (Allen Midgette) dozes off on the park bench, the weary prostitute (Wanda Rocci) sees her final client in "un tipo strano" from Milan (Renato Troiani). Pasolini's turf transformed by the neophyte's sense of unsettled movement, a sprawl of Roman lowlifes and dreamers with a tinge of Partie de Campagne smack in the middle of it. The Rashomon structure is a feint, the charm of it is that of a young auteur who has a mystery to solve when he'd rather gad about the big city, exploring the Coliseum and flirting with passersby. Ragazzi sfacciati on both sides of the screen, a reverse tracking shot balloons a brick-walled hallway into a darkened grotto (cf. Mr. Arkadin). "Come and join civilization!" Queer eyes and wooden shoes for the arrest on the dance floor, a Belli verse brings down the scythe at the close. In black and white.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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